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Business 101: Let’s Business

Running your own business is impossible, right? Wrong. Strap in folks, we’re about to learn the ins and outs of business.

Woodshop Bear

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Bears of the world! It is I, your friendly local woodworking bear!

First, let me give a sincere thank you to everyone who has helped us get to this point. Beartaria Times is going to be an incredible outlet for those looking to grow, build, and improve. The logos pouring from our group of editors is truly overwhelming, and we hope to bring all of you content throughout the week which will help inspire you to live righteous lives.

For my first contribution to this wonderful new platform, I’d like to lay out how the business section will operate. Business articles are typically boring. Not here, my friends. Nobody will be having more fun than us.

If you would have told me even 3 years ago that one day soon I would be operating a full-fledged small business out of my single car garage of my modest townhouse which I rent, I wouldn’t have believed you for a second. The idea would have been taken as nothing short of preposterous. Running a business is for rich people with ivy league educations, right? In order to effectively run your own business, you need to go to business school where you’ll learn the occulted knowledge of selling goods and services, while also racking up enough student loan debt to cripple you for decades, right?

Wrong. On so many levels.

In this section, we are going to break down why that is wrong. I’ll be providing my personal experience with starting a business from scratch, with no guidance whatsoever, so all of you who wish to do the same may do so easier. All of my mistakes, all of my successes, practical tips, business wisdom, will all be found here within these pages. Every who, what, when, where, why, and how will be covered. As business editor, it is my goal to show all those reading that owning and operating your own business, and in turn boosting your self reliance when it comes to obtaining financial freedom, is not only attainable for anyone, but it’s quite simple and endless amounts of fun. There are stresses to be had, of course, but you will find that everywhere in life. Here, we grow.

Also in this business section we will be doing business features. The concept is simple, and we’ve all heard the phrase “Support what you love or it goes away” many times. It’s time to start supporting what we love. If you’re a bear with a business, the feature articles are where we will highlight your business for all to see. To be featured on Beartaria Times, please scroll to the very bottom of the site and click on the “Contribute Works” button. You will find all information pertaining to being featured there.

And, to keep this fun train rolling, I will also be doing a weekly Q&A article with any specific business questions I receive. Please submit all questions via email to: Business@beartariatimes.com

I will do my best to answer every question that comes in to the best of my ability. Please keep in mind, however, that my business experience may differ from yours, and the things I write here are general advice and not strict business recommendations. Every business has different variables, and will differ wildly. There are many underlying themes in business though which will lead to prosperity. That’s what I’ll be focusing on.

Strap in, get your notepads out, and let’s ride this business train together my friends! I look forward to helping you all on your journeys to creating flourishing businesses which you can be proud of, which will help feed your families, and which will hopefully help make this world a more beautiful place.

Onward, Bears!

-Woodshop Bear

Business

Overcoming The Beast that is Self Doubt

How does one mitigate the self doubt felt when starting a new business venture?

Woodshop Bear

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So you’ve decided to start a business. You’ve got a product or service in mind, you’ve got everything mapped out, and you’re excited about jumping in. Those dreams of finally severing the ties with (insert company you despise working for here) finally seem within reach. And then the self doubt begins.

When deciding to start a business, many people will inevitably fall victim to the ridiculous notion that in order to succeed they must create the best product known to man, or provide the best service that anybody has ever experienced. Although striving for excellence is a great trait to have and much better than the alternative, the idea that anything but the absolute best equates to failure is inherently false, and can do a lot of damage not only to your business, but yourself as well. I fell victim to this for a brief moment upon starting my business, and I’m going to share with you all how I navigated through the torrent of thoughts and emotions which boiled up at that time.

We live in a culture today that strives for perfection. You see it everywhere you look. Filters on every single camera, app, and video sharing platform. Mega corporations constantly telling you you’re not good enough, but their product will help you become better in some way. You’re not cool unless you have the newest phone, which is exactly the same as last years but with a larger price tag. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably broken through that spell and know it’s all nonsense. But the spell is by design, you can get a degree in it (Marketing), it is a multi billion dollar a year industry, and it is incredibly effective. When one is bombarded with both conscious and subconscious programming which tells them they are less than adequate, it eventually seeps in to the back of your mind and will manifest later in ways which many wouldn’t even correlate to the advertising.

Prior to the launch of my website, building my first product, or even knowing what it was that I was going to produce, the feelings of inadequacy crept in. And those feelings nearly stopped me from moving forward with something I was genuinely thrilled about making a reality. One day, while I was in the midst of building my shop, a thought popped into my head which both startled and unnerved me. “What are you doing all of this for? Nothing you’ve ever tried has worked out the way you wanted it to. You’re just wasting time. You’re broke, quit spending the little money you have on plywood and tools that you’ll never use. Give up”. And I nearly did. Were these thoughts a reflection of my woodworking ability? Absolutely not. I would consider myself a very decent woodworker by today’s standards. Were they because I know nothing about business, or building a website, or how to market my products? Couldn’t be that, as I did that years prior with a small business attempt making small batch beard care products. I searched for days trying to find the source of these thoughts which had taken ahold and were clinging on for dear life. Those few days were extremely trying, until I realized where it was all originating from.

I was indeed scared that I would fail miserably. And that fear was coming from the idea that I was, for some reason or another, contractually obligated to create a product that was superior to every comparable product in existence. As I think back to it now it’s quite funny, but at the time it was a sincere fear.

In today’s world people are starving. Starving for attention, starving for approval, starving for meaning and purpose. When one is existing in a state of mind where they’re not enough, it’s no far stretch of the imagination to conclude that they will prescribe that same inadequacy to every aspect of their life. I found myself falling victim to the “meaning and purpose” class of starvation. I had recently found my way home back to God, He had blessed my wife and I with a beautiful daughter, but I still felt like I was not living up to the call He put out. It is my belief that I somehow correlated the quality of the not yet decided upon products with the path God had ordained for me. As if there was a looming expectation of not only perfection, but grandeur, and anything less than that would be inexcusable. I was still tripping over cords and dropping tools on my feet while trying to build a shop, but in my head I was fighting battles against thoughts which were highly irrational.

Our daughter was around 8 months old when this happened. As a first time parent, I was enjoying every moment of this stage. She was becoming much more self aware, she was laughing hysterically, she was grabbing the spoon as it came towards her mouth because she wanted to try it herself. With each new milestone, I became more proud of her. While driving to the store one day, with a tear in my eye while thinking about how the last 8 months went by in a day, I had the revelatory realization that if I felt that much joy in my daughter for doing something as simple as holding a spoon, imagine how overjoyed God must be that I turned my entire life around, relinquishing the control all of my earthly desires had over me, and how I now want nothing more than to provide for my family. If I was that hurt when I had to use my dad voice to mildly scold my daughter when she yanked my beard harder than even the strongest man on earth could and she stuck her bottom lip out in response, how much hurt does God feel when millions of His children go down a path of conscious sin, or refuse to even attempt to live a life he would approve of? In that exact moment, I gained a much deeper understanding of God, of being a parent, of how those two are connected, and of how silly those feeling of inadequacy pertaining to business were. I didn’t care if my daughter stumbled while standing, and I did not expect her to go from crawling to running the first time she stood on her own. I was elated watching her grab hold of the couch and pull with all of her might until she was standing up, smiling and scanning the room to see if we had witnessed it. God does not expect perfection from day one either. Just improvement and a desire to do good. This calmed me tremendously, and I went back into the shop with a renewed and much stronger sense of optimism.

Do I make the best cutting boards on earth? Probably not. But I don’t need to, because my cutting boards are great, they’re affordable for the quality you’re getting, I’m very friendly with customers and those who support what I’m doing, and most importantly I’m trying and improving every day. If you’re starting a construction company, there is no stipulation that you must erect the finest house that has ever been built. Just build a good house that a family will call a home. We as humans are constantly over complicating things, as a result of decades of programming. Deprogram yourself, and realize it’s all nonsense. You don’t have to make the best product or provide the best service. Just make something good. Try. As people are starving for the aforementioned things, they are also starving for products that are simply good, and not made 6,000 miles away, and which will not break in 3 months. And they’re willing to pay a little extra for that quality. And in my experience they are delighted to support a small business here in the US who is doing just that. People are starving for service that is simply good. A short and friendly conversation with another real human being who happens to know how to fix your toilet or cut down the giant tree in your yard is not something that can be taught in marketing school.

As it turns out, you don’t have to recreate the wheel in order to succeed. You just need to sell a good wheel to someone who needs one.

One more word of advice, easily observed in the wild. In nature, the male lion may seem like he’s got it all, being the king. But he also has to risk his life fighting the other males who challenge him. If you desire perfection to the point of being the king of your industry, enjoy the endless lawsuits and ridiculous expectations from your customers that come with it. We recently saw many heads of the tech community testify before congress. What we didn’t see is the guy quietly running a small automotive shop in the country testifying before congress.

Do not let self doubt or irrational fear stop you from trying. You did not put that self doubt inside of your head. The people who don’t want you to dip into their billion dollar profits by starting your own business did. We need less mass production, and more of the masses producing.

Until next time bears. Onward!

-Woodshop Bear

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Business

Business Q&A: Volume 1

Morals, Social Media and finding like minded folk. Navigating a sea of dilemmas.

Woodshop Bear

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**Public Disclaimer: The views expressed in this Q&A Section are not a representation or reflection of the other authors here at The Beartaria Times, nor are they a representation or reflection of The Beartaria Times in itself. They are the individual thoughts, opinions, and suggestions of the author himself, based on his knowledge of business. Anything read in this section should not be taken as concrete business advice, but rather helpful suggestions if you find them applicable to your own business**

Welcome to our first Q&A session, my friends! For those who did not see my first article, I’ll be answering business questions to the best of my ability for all to read and learn from. This week’s set of questions comes from Ben, who wrote:


“Hi,

Im trying to set up a small business writing and publishing tabletop RPG adventures.
So many people and organizations in this area are SJW/converged, including all the market leaders. Should I hide my right leaning opinions from people? If so, at what point can I stop hiding and be myself?

I have no money to advertise, is it worth using traditional social media in the current environment?

How can I reach out to other people who like crushing and not get bogged down with soy boys?

Thanks for any advice,
Ben”

First, that sounds epic. Please include a character who looks like a Dwarf from the world of Tolkien, but 6’3″ tall and loves woodworking.

1.) Your first question regarding whether or not to hide your right leaning opinions is, for me, an easy answer. Absolutely not. I am a huge proponent of authenticity, and the world is starving for it right now. Do not ever fear being ostracized by the mob because of your morals. Many businesses these days are bending the knee to the mob and throwing artificial support behind causes which they do not truly care about. These causes are never good for people or their clients. Businesses do so to try to capitalize on rage most of the time. I find this practice abhorrent, and am much more fond of running a business quietly and only using your business platform to spread morals if asked (unless of course the spreading of your morals ties into your business). For every one person who has a problem with it, you’ll find 5 people who agree with you and would love to support whatever business endeavor you’re on simply because they want to help boost up like minded people.

I recently had a woman express interest in my products via social media before quickly informing me that she would not be supporting my business after all, citing my personal page which she snooped on and found issue with. I was given a choice in that moment to either bend for a few dollars or hold my ground. I held my ground very strongly. That particular incident spread around a bit, and opened some doors for me. I don’t know if some of those doors would have ever opened had I not stood my ground.

Sometimes God tests our resolve, and the prize we win is based on our decision in that moment. Stand your ground with feet planted firm, and keep faith that upholding morality is more important than any amount of money.

In summary, I would advise you to state your beliefs and opinions if questioned on them, but let your business speak for itself all other times. Your morality will come through in whatever you do, without the need of you being vocal. This is not something that should be feared. Those who understand will be supportive, and those who take issue will quickly fall away.

2.) Regarding your question about using social media in the current environment. I would absolutely suggest you do so. I don’t find any problem with using the tools at our disposal to help grow, as long as they’re being used responsibly and with good intent. Many wish, myself included, that we still lived in times where you simply brought your potato harvest to the market and sold them right then and there. While this is still an option with local farmers markets, it is not the same as it used to be. Try as we might to keep things simple, it is human nature to complicate. As long as you are not creating problems for your business, utilize the infrastructure while you need to. Fingers crossed that someday your business will grow to the point of no longer needing to rely on social media, as your reputation will precede you.

3.) For your last question, as it pertains to business, I would combine answers from your first two questions to answer this one. Be who you are, stand up for morality, spill Logos everywhere, and utilize social media. It may be a slow start, but that’s alright. The things that matter the most in this life are not quickly obtained. As you grow your business, you will grow as a human as well. Let it happen. Burn the dead wood, and continue on. In life, we attract what we give our energy to. Give no energy to the type of people you don’t wish to be in your life or support your business. I live just outside of Portland, OR. I am in the midst of a fallen city full of people I have nothing in common with. I’m still thriving and crushing. Put your faith in God, that He will provide whatever it is you need in this life to grow. When done so with the purest of intentions, you will find that what you need most will enter your life.

This concludes our first Q&A session. Thank you to Ben for the questions, and I hope some of this can help others who may be experiencing the same dilemmas.

If you would like to have your questions answered, please send an email to: Business@beartariatimes.com

Keep crushing everyone!

-Woodshop Bear

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Business

Starting A Business? Why.

Thinking about starting a business? You’d better think first about why you’d ever do such a thing.

Woodshop Bear

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Businesses fail every single day. I’m sure every person reading this has known someone who had a business fail, witnessed a business they grew up with go under or had business failures of their own. More often than not, the reason for that failure goes hand in hand with blaming an outside influence. It’s easy to push the blame on to a corporation and say you can’t compete. But is that really what’s going on? In this article, let’s dive a little deeper into why some businesses fail, and some succeed.

Let’s first reframe the way we look at the word “business”. Remove the skyscrapers, the corporate board meetings, the company credit cards, and the suits that cost more than my entire shop put together. Business is nothing more than the selling of goods and/or services. That’s it. I have a product. You need my product. I give you my product and you give me something in return. Typically that is money, in today’s society. Seems pretty cut and dry, right? Everybody can therefor just create something, sell it, and become successful, correct? Not so much. Although the act of creating something may be simple enough, there is far more needed to succeed. You need to have a reason as to why you’re starting a business.

And that reason needs to be a very good one.

Let’s rewind to June of 2018. Your friendly woodworking bear was not in a good place at that time. Coming off the heels of a decision to admit defeat and stop trying for children after 4 years and no luck, I was crushed inside. Hope was entirely lost. My marriage with my lovely wife, who I had been with since I was 17 years old, was hanging on by the skin of its teeth. We were both full of pain, watching the years tick by and not being able to hear our baby’s laugh, or rock her to sleep. In such a scenario, it is not hard to believe that I replayed every poor choice I had made in my life, hyper analyzed every hurtful word I’d ever said (especially to my wife), and wondered if this was God’s punishment. The breaking point was finally reached and I, a 6’3″ full bearded giant, collapsed in the shower weeping. I prayed, and begged, for God to not take this from my wife. Punish me as you wish, but don’t take this from her. 2 weeks later she was pregnant.

Fast forward to March 4th, 2019. After 40 hrs of labor with no sleep and no food, my wife was rushed into an emergency c-section. Barely coherent, pumped full of morphine, terrified, and blood pressure so high that the nurses were becoming concerned for her heart. 20 minutes later, I heard my baby girl cry for the first time, and laid eyes on the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in this world. She was perfect in every conceivable way. She was everything I had dreamed of for years, and so much more.

A few months, and an unfathomable amount of sleep deprivation later, I began thinking about our financial situation. 9 bulging discs, a neck injury that will never heal, a crushed spinal cord in 3 locations, a crushed vagus nerve, sciatica in my left leg, and chronic migraines all from a horrific car accident 9 years prior left me incapable of holding down a full time job. It was time to stop working odd jobs to make ends meet, and take control. God blessed me with a daughter, and I was going to answer that call and do everything within my power to ensure that she had a good upbringing. So I went into my horribly neglected garage, so packed with the accumulation of a million things that found there way in there that I couldn’t walk a straight line from one end to the other, and began cleaning. Cleaning turned into reorganizing. Reorganizing turned into building cabinets on the wall and work stations. I had no idea what I was doing yet, but I knew I needed a clean area before I could even begin the process of figuring out what the right path was.

Eventually I landed on woodworking. I had entertained the idea of building overlanding trailers, but I didn’t have nearly enough space. Next idea was custom knife making. I quickly shelved that when I began researching the startup costs. So, woodworking it was. I grew up watching my father build stuff, and had done a fair bit of crude building on my own since. I didn’t even know what I was going to build yet, but I knew it was going to involve wood.

Now, that was a long story. You may be thinking “Woodshop Bear, we don’t need your life story, we need business advice”. To that, I’ll ask you to go to the top of this article and re-read the first 3 paragraphs.

The name of my business is Little Bear Woodshop. When our first born daughter was still in the womb, our nickname for her was Little Bear. Upon creation of this business, I thought of many great potential names, but this business was founded with the intention of passing it on to our children when we are too old to continue on with it. But more important than the passing along of a business, I want to pass along the lessons of hard work, of never giving up, and of taking care of your family. That picture above this article contains our logo. At first glance, one could easily get the impression that this was a gimmicky way to capitalize on the bear community. But there is a much deeper meaning to why I chose it as the final logo design for our company. The day after we came home from the hospital, I did what every new father does and put my daughter’s hand in mine. I marveled at how small it was. I wept, holding her hand in mine. I still felt unsure about what my path in life was, and was still harboring a considerable amount of insecurity about myself. Staring at her hand in mine, with tears rolling down my cheeks into my beard, I realized that none of that mattered anymore. The life I lived prior to her arrival, full of copious amounts of overthinking, self doubt, self pity more times than I’d care to admit to, and constantly being hypercritical of myself was over. Looking at that tiny hand, seeing how she had no control or dexterity yet, reshaped my entire view of the world and my own life.

That little paw is hers, inside of mine. I am her protector, her provider, and she is entirely dependent on her mother and I. I designed that logo myself, knowing that in the future when times became hard and I felt like giving up, I would need a constant reminder of why I was doing this. And you’d better believe that after carving 60 wooden spoons by hand with a hook knife over the course of 2 weeks, with blisters so big I couldn’t fully bend my fingers and hands wrapped in cloth and bandages so as to not get blood on the products I was making, I looked at that logo. And it gave me a strength like nothing else could have, and I continued on through the pain. When I wanted so desperately to take a day off after working 8 to 12 hours a day in that shop, every single day, for over 6 months straight, I looked at that sign and said “I can do more today”. This feeling grew exponentially with the recent birth of our second baby girl. As our family grows, so does my desire to provide. That well has not run dry once since I became a father.


Want to start a business? You’d better think long and hard about why you want it. These times that I’m describing are not exclusive to woodworking. In any business endeavor, there will come a point where you feel utterly defeated and you’re ready to give up. If you’re starting a new business you will work so hard, for so long, with so little reward, that exhaustion will not even begin to express what you feel. It is crucial that you have something to push you through that, as that’s often when things are about to start turning around. Businesses fail because people running them either didn’t have something to hold onto when they started, or they somehow lost it along the way. When faced with a challenge, that motivation will be what drives you to adapt in whatever way you need to in order to keep it going. Without that motivation, you will succumb to the stress, the challenges, and the fear.

He who starts a business for riches or fame will eventually fail when presented with a storm. He who starts a business for his family will teach himself how to waterproof his boots, which he also taught himself how to make, before marching into the storm.

I worked for 6 months straight to prepare for the local Farmers Market here in Portland, OR. I lost my spot overnight due to new covid regulations that shrunk the usable space by over 1/3 of its total. I had over $10,000 in finished products sitting on shelves in my shop ready to go. I took a breath, and began taking pictures of all of it to put into our online store. I started researching what tools were needed to make new products. I brainstormed new designs for cutting boards, started researching where to source new hardware, and continued on. My baby will not go hungry because I faced a challenge. That small paw holds food in its hand because this big paw is blistered, cut, bruised, and aching.

I encourage all of you who are thinking or dreaming about starting a business to find that reason why before you even take the first step. To those who have a business already, take a moment to remind yourselves. Listen to your children laugh, look at their smiling faces, or imagine what they will look like if you have yet to experience the wonder that is parenthood. Anybody can sell a cutting board. Very few can carve 60 spoons when every hand movement causes wincing pain.

Onward, my friends!

-Woodshop Bear

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